Mumbai: This is a film that is “same same but…very different!” For once, the illogic is ironed out by the cracker pace that leaves little time to think of the logical flaws, and by the time you do get to reflect upon them, the far larger issues of emotional as well as patriotic – check the release timing! – gratification (which to many in the audience will be about personal identification in different matters) makes those loopholes quite inconsequential!

Not for a long time (maybe even since the first “Singham,” which was preceded by “Wanted”) have we seen a film in which the audience will get so involved with the characters and in the developments. This is Rohit’s biggest triumph as director, along with his writing team. Remakes getting sequels can work either way (check “Bheja Fry 2,” “Don 2” and “Hera Pheri”) and this time, Shetty comes up trumps in what can be called his best action thriller to date (“Zameen,” “Sunday,” “Singham” and along with the romance, “Chennai Express”).

Another triumph of the writing team that we must highlight is that so many sequences are predictable, and yet we do not mind them when they come, like Ganesh Yadav’s death for example. In fact, they even add to the enjoyable celluloid experience!

Everything is interlinked in the plot – Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn) is now deputy commissioner of police, Mumbai, and his territory seems to be midtown. When the film begins, we already have him in place as a man idealized by his juniors (led by Dayanand Shetty and Ganesh Yadav) and adored by his senior officer (Sharat Saxena) and respected also by two completely honest politicians from the Bharatiya Neta Party (!) – Guruji (Anupam Kher) and the chief minister (Mahesh Manjrekar, in a superb sympathetic performance).

Trouble arises through a renegade politician, Prakashrao (Zakir Hussain) and a fraudulent ‘baba’ (Amole Gupte). While the first friction occurs by chance, when an honest cop is going to his hometown, the latter events snowball into a classical political situation wherein the cops and the good guys know the horrendous truths but are unable to proceed for lack of solid proof.

Shetty builds up an impact-creating world of dedicated cops relentlessly fighting the evil forces, the baddies usually being that one step ahead and of course, the classic larger-than-life brand of Shetty-Devgn action and whistle-inducing lines by most of the main characters helps big time.

Yes, there is illogic – in how the gangster’s death stymies the police cause though he has confessed in front of dozens of officers, and how the evil twain of the ‘baba’ and Prakashrao are absolved despite the clinching audiovisual evidence against them – both these being dramatic necessities for Shetty to work out an audience-friendly end that leaves us mentally cheering.

Amidst all this, however, Shetty injects small but clever doses of realism – highlighting the very real and multiple trials and tribulations of cops and their families, and the way a force of 47,000 cops makes the city secure for a population of 20 million. We also liked the way Marathi is used naturally, without translation in some cases, and how well Kareena and Ajay are made to speak in it.

Yes, the music (assorted songs by a motley bunch of mediocre tunesmiths) is a letdown, but let’s face it, the film did not need songs anyway. The technical side, as should be the case, is more than competent without being intrusive upon the drama and storytelling.

Ajay Devgn is brilliant again as Bajirao Singham, and we can clearly predict a well-anticipated third franchise some years down the line. Shetty is on home ground with him, and the complete chemistry between them is almost palpable. Kareena Kapoor Khan, who indulged in off-screen subterfuge by defining her character in the media as a rickshaw-driver (she drives a rickshaw within the film for precisely a minute or two!) is over-the-top (intentionally) in some scenes but does make her presence felt.

Kher is superb, and special mention must be made of the lesser-known actors like the college kids and those in minor or relatively lesser roles, like Shriswara as the NRI and Ashwini Kalsekar as the channel scribe. And Amole Gupte stands out precisely because he is made into a caricature who hams!

This is a film that exceeds expectations. Go for it!

Rating: ****1/2

Reliance Entertainment, Ajay Devgn Ffilms and Rohit Shetty Productions present

Singham Returns: Thrill-Fest that Indulges Both Illogic and Realism

Produced by: AJAY DEVGN & ROHIT SHETTY

Directed by: ROHIT SHETTY

Written by: ROHIT SHETTY, YUNUS SAJAWAL & FARHD-SAJID

Music: JEET GANNGULY, MEET BROS. ANJJAN, ANKIT TIWARI & YO YO HONEY SINGH

Starring: AJAY DEVGN, KAREENA KAPOOR, MAHESH MANJREKAR, AMOLE GUPTE, ZAKIR HUSSAIN, SAMEER DHARMADHIKARI, PANKAJ TRIPATHI, VINEET SHARMA, DAYANAND SHETTY, DEEPRAJ RANA, SHUBHANGI LATKAR, SHARAT SAXENA, GANESH YADAV, SHRISWARA, SONALEE KULKARNI, ASHWINI KALSIKAR, ANUPAM KHER & others

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